“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
These words were first found written in the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by our Congress on July 4,1776 – the day our nation was born. This sentence contains three of the inalienable rights that we all have as human beings and are the 3 most important ones as well. But what exactly does this mean? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where, and how does it fit in to my life? Let’s take a look at what each word means and we’ll go from there.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines life as:
2 a : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual b : one or more aspects of the process of living
5 a : the period from birth to death b : a specific phase of earthly existence <adult life> c : the period from an event until death <a judge appointed for life> d : a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of a convict’s life
These are just two of the many definitions it gives. So far, we are entitled to both be born and to die; to have experiences that mold and shape us as we grow; and to just live.
Let’s see what it says about liberty:
1 : the quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice
From this we gather that along with life (having experiences and living), we are entitled to the power of choice(choosing how to live, what to wear, what to eat, etc); the ability to enjoy social, political and/or economic rights; freedom from despotic control.
The ‘pursuit of happiness’ I have broken down into two parts – ‘pursuit’ and ‘happiness’.
pursuit – 1 : the act of pursuing 2 : an activity that one engages in as a vocation, profession, or avocation
happiness – 1 : good fortune : prosperity 2 a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
Soo…..the pursuit of happiness is being able to pursue what makes you happy, gives you joy, am I correct? You following?
Let’s put it all together – Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means, “We are allowed to live and have experiences based on our choices as we pursue the things that bring us joy.”
Notice this – it never says we are gonna get whatever makes us happy. We are allowed to pursue it but it never guarantees we’re gonna get it. There is another hidden statement in that phrase – where does one acquire liberty? Remember when this was written and adopted? July 4,1776, where we officially won our freedom, aka liberty, from England in the war known as the Revolutionary War. We fought, yes, war and guts and blood, fought England in order to secure our liberty. The price of freedom is this: the lives that are lost and the blood that is spilled. Every act of peace comes from war. Independence can only be found in peace which comes through war. There has to be war in order for there to be peace. I know I said that three times but I wanted you to get that point.
The entire phrase states this – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We are created equal to live and choose as we please. We can choose to disagree or agree with you, love or hate you, whatever but it is our choice. Just because something makes me happy, doesn’t mean that it will make you happy. I’m not gonna shove what I think down your throat or even make you listen, then again, it’s your choice.
How are you gonna define your life, your liberty and your pursuit of happiness?